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Kublalsingh warns of more floods in 2018

Published: 
Monday, November 20, 2017
Leader of the Highway Reroute Movement Dr Wayne Kublalsingh during last week’s press conference. PICTURE KRISTIAN DE SILVA

Highway Reroute Movement’s (HRM)Dr Wayne Kublalsingh is calling on Government to remove the aggregate clogging the water courses in the Oropouche basin, saying failure to do so could lead to extensive flooding in 2018 and a sharp rise in death and disease.

Speaking to the media during a press conference at the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union headquarters in San Fernando on Friday, Kublalsingh said the flooding experienced last month will be nothing compared to what will happen next year if Government does not remove the hundreds of tonnes of aggregate packed to build an embankment for the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway.

Since the last set of floods, 15 cases of leptospirosis were reported and scores of residents suffered from skin rashes and sores.

He admitted it was difficult to get support for his cause from surrounding communities inundated with floods, saying it seems the United National Congress (UNC), who built the embankment, had a “mystic hold” on its constituents. He denied, however, that the recent floods were caused by people dumping white waste in the water courses.

“It is not rubbish in the river and old fridge and old stove that is causing this, it is extreme weather events and this is going to be aggravated in the future, next year, the following year, leading to, in the high areas, landslides, landslips and in the low areas—lots of water in the system and the water has to go somewhere,” Kublalsingh said.

“And this is not a prediction, it’s a certainty.”

He also called for the modernisation of the floodgates along the mangrove fringe which controls the inflows and outflows of water from the sea by utilising electronic technology. The flood gates today are controlled manually.

Kublalsingh also called for the building of retention ponds at low lying points.

“Water from these ponds could be used for agriculture in the dry season. We also need rain water harvesting technology, where large volumes of water from the hydrosphere from cloud, to rooftop, to ground could be converted to domestic, industrial and farm water,” Kublalsingh added.

He said controlling the flood gates will reduce flooding.

“In the rainy season, surge is rough and intrusive and at high tides this water pelts up the large rivers of Trinidad with the Godineau and Oropouche rivers particularly susceptible to this flow,” he said.

He said when extreme rainfall is experienced, as what occurred several weeks ago, the water flowing into the Gulf of Paria is blocked at high tide by the Orinoco river and, “with nowhere to go, spilled over the river banks, inundating communities” in south west Trinidad.

“And we have not developed, the Government has not developed the political structure, we have not developed the institutional structure, the technology and we have not developed the medical and other structure to deal with that,” he said.

Saying the HRM wants Government to abort its mega-highway for this district, referring to the Armstrong Report and the HRM’s Optimum Connectivity Plan.

“This plan advocates the use of connector roads at the level of and stitched to the existing road networks to enhance road connectivity in this vulnerable wetland basin,” Kublalsingh said.